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Colin, Bryan, and Sam

Balance is necessary for stability. For Southern reconstruction to be successful, we must be both lenient and forceful, yet only where it is logical and appropriate to be so. We must recognize that different situations call for different measures, yet all that is possible must be undertaken for peace. Our goal for reconstruction is to create a unified nation where freedmen are integrated in society. We place integration above all else, for the Civil War was fought for this purpose: to eradicate slavery and give the gift of freedom to the black man. While unification is important as a final goal of our policy, force may end up being a necessary part of reconstruction. As is true in all situations, moderation is the best option. Our plan consists of six points: trials for Confederate leaders, a program of subsidized integration, universal male suffrage, readmission of states based on ratification of three Constitutional amendments, a multi-pronged strategy to restore the Southern economy, and a safety net of military occupation.

One of the major issues concerning the South is what to do with the leaders of the Confederacy, the men who will most likely continue to be hostile to the Union and encourage their followers and admirers to do the same. In our plan, we would take the top 50 or so people who encouraged and lead the Southern states to rebellion, including political figures and high ranking military officers, and put them on trial for treason. These men have the chance to be pardoned if they swear their allegiance to the Union, with the exception of former President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, as at least one leader of the Confederacy needs to be made an example of, and Davis is both liked by the Southerners while at the same time not popular enough to trigger a large-scale Southern rebellion should he be punished (doing the same thing to Robert E. Lee, for example, would lead to a great number of rebellions, as he was a much more lionized figure in the South). Southern hatred as a whole towards the Union would lessen since, as an act of mercy to the top rebels, the maximum sentence that a treasonous leader could receive is life without parole. We will have no executions due to the fact that the murder of any of the Southern people’s heroes would create much more anger towards the Union than if their idols were allowed to live. At the same time, the imprisonment of the treasonous men will still send the message that the US will no longer tolerate violently rebellious ideas. With this combination of harsh discipline to those continuing to resist the US while simultaneously offering most people the chance of escaping punishment, we hope to significantly lessen the hostility that will occur between the North and South.

As for the freedmen of the South, we would offer a new program to each Southern town in order to allow the freedmen to more easily integrate with the many hostile whites. This program would be called “Subsidized Integration”. Due to the costs to repair the damage in the South done by the Civil War, taxes would inevitably increase. However, if a town had no racial segregation, in schools, businesses, jobs, or any other facilities, the US government would substantially lower the taxes of all the citizens of the town. The difference would be made up by raising the taxes of the towns that refuse to integrate the blacks with the whites. This would increase the pressure of southern towns to integrate the freedmen into their society, as the taxes would go higher and higher as other towns accept the deal while they continue to refuse. Not only would this allow the whites and blacks to pay their taxes more easily, but it would also allow the two races to more quickly tolerate each other, since they would be sharing the same facilities and occupations for an extended period of time. We would also have Union troops in the South protecting the freedmen and those who supported the Blacks by strictly enforcing the Force Acts, which we would push to be passed a few years earlier, so as to stop societies like the Ku Klux Klan before their reigns of terror had spread to far along the South. With the Union army and the Force Acts, the freedmen would be safer and less intimidated. We will also fully back the Freedmen’s Bureau and its goals, including the education of freed slaves and the settlement of freedmen on forty-acre tracts of land. By integrating the blacks with the whites, while keeping the whites happy, and both protecting and educating the newly freed slaves, the freedmen will live in the defeated South under the safest and happiest conditions possible.

Once officially “reconstructed,” democracy will finally be extended to all states. All men, despite race or previous condition of servitude, shall be permitted to vote and hold office in Southern state legislatures. The South waged a war against civil rights; we wish to correct their mistakes by extending suffrage to all males in the Union. If the goal of this reconstruction is to reunify the Union as a nation that guarantees civil rights to all citizens, then we will not prosper if each sector of society is not represented, both in government and as part of the voting public. To deny blacks the right to vote or hold office would make their freedom pointless. Suffrage is a natural extension of emancipation. Furthermore, a governing body composed of both blacks and whites will be the most accurate group of people to make important decisions affecting every person in a region. If we don’t incorporate blacks into government now, it will be hard to incorporate them in the future. Reconstruction if the perfect opportunity to create a new government based on universal male suffrage and equal representation in government. The only male US citizens not eligible for election to State legislatures are those former members of the Confederacy indicted for treason by the federal government.

In order to create a unified nation, we must readmit willing states to the Union. Still, we cannot allow states re-entry without some stipulations: without submission to the Union, Southern states are liable to forget that the North was victorious in the War. To be readmitted to the Union, each Southern state is individually required to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments by a simple majority vote of the state legislature. These amendments call for the abolition of slavery, citizenship for those of all races, and suffrage to all male citizens, respectively. We want a unified nation, yet we cannot forget that for which we fought. We want the nation to be reconstructed with a solid foundation of equal rights. By ratifying these amendments, the states, in a way, pledge allegiance to the United States. However, we don’t want to create an impossible situation. We require only a majority vote in each state’s legislature; anything higher would be difficult to the variety of opinion, anything lower would fail to be an accurate indicator of a state’s loyalty to the Union and the cause of civil rights. We refuse to punish the South for having a wide variety of ideologies, yet we also refuse to give any state a free pass. Secession is not something to be taken lightly, but rather a serious matter to be dealt with carefully.

Restoring the economy is invariably the most complicated step in every reconstruction following a devastating war. In the South, cotton was king, and that monarchy led to the dissolution of the Union. The most important thing the Federal government can do for these people is make sure that they are not severely impoverished. Integrated counties in the South will receive subsidies from the federal government, both to encourage integration and to have the Southern people make the mental connection from integration, and subsequent equality for all citizens, to economic subsistence. Their economic success will be directly related to the civil rights of the African-American people. The Southern farmer will remain economically viable through the production of foodstuffs, indigo, and cotton. The Northerners will once again buy Southern raw goods and manufacture them for profit. The federal government will encourage the North to buy primarily Southern goods to enhance their respective economies. The citizens that owned land in the areas in Georgia that Sherman burned over will receive a land grant from the government, with the land area being equal to the land in which the soil has become tarnished, further west (unless the citizen that previously owned the land has been convicted for treason, or has perished). The individuals will not be forced to accept these lands, and they will not be forced to move. The government will also enact a minimum wage for every citizen. This is done with the intent of expanding the middle class to create a stable economy. Economic dynamism is not the goal; stability must be reached before the South can return to prosperity.

In order to keep order in the South, the Force Acts will be enacted directly after the conclusion of the vote to reinstate the states into the Union. They will be the overseers of the legislation passed to reach stability, and they will be there to protect all people from attempted terrorism. They will be withdrawn periodically from counties with integration, but no troops will be withdrawn from counties that refuse to integrate, or insist on integration or refuse to hire African-Americans. The military will not be allowed to perform executions or shoot civilians for any other reason than self-protection. They will be allowed to make arrests, but the individuals still must be tried by a jury of their peers. Any unlawful act committed by Union army members will result in the termination of the soldiers involved. The military will not be directly involved in any business decisions nor will they be allowed to interfere in the daily lives of citizens. They will maintain the peace through a difficult time of change, but they will not be in charge politically or financially.

No plan is perfect, yet this plan is one that will forever be known for its balance and grounded logic. Some will call it too lenient, yet others will claim it is too strict. Compared to some plans, it is lenient. Compared to others, it is strict. Yet as it stands on its own, this plan is perfectly practical and realistic. This plan will surely achieve its goal of successful national unification with racial reintegration. This goal is neither unachievable nor facile. By achieving this goal, we will honor those who died fighting for the Union. By achieving this goal, the South will redeem itself of the wrongs that it committed in the past. By achieving this goal, we will have created a new nation based on equal rights, a strong central government, and freedom for all.

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RESPONSE(S) TO TEAM PLAN:
This plan is very good. It balances leniency and strictness perfectly, but at the same time it does not punish the South for their wrongdoings. I really like your plan for readmittance back into the Union. Although you did not require the states to vote a certain percentage towards the Union, you did require something from the Southern states, that they may be more willing to agree upon. I extremely liked your economic plan, buy you might want to think about how you are going to encourage Northerners to buy from the Southerners, because to me it seems that they will not be that willing to, since they were able to manage throughout the entire Civil War without the Southern goods. I also liked your plan to integrate the freedman into society, and I believe that would have worked extremely well, because with officers present, less whites will be willing to protest against the civil rights given to the freedman. Great Job!